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Palestinians show solidarity with Shamasna family under threat of imminent eviction

Aug. 11, 2017 12:44 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2017 9:21 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A local committee in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem called on Palestinian Jerusalemites to perform afternoon prayers on the main street in front of the home of the Shamasna family, who is facing imminent evacuation from their home of 53 years.

The committee called upon on all those who are able to perform the prayers in solidarity with the Shamasna family, and in a show of support for all Palestinian families in Jerusalem who are threatened with evacuations and home demolitions

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement Friday expressing their concern over the threat of eviction, highlighting that if carried out, the eviction would be the first in the area since 2009, and that the Shamasna family is one of at least 180 households in East-Jerusalem, mainly in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, the Old City and Beit Safafa, facing the threat of eviction from their homes.

“Further settlement plans including evictions are being moved forward in Sheikh Jarrah. The EU calls on the Israeli authorities to reconsider these decisions,” the statement said, highlighting that Israel’s settlement project in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal under international law, and “undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

The magistrate court in Jerusalem, the district court, and the Israeli Supreme Court have all ruled in favor of claims that the house is Jewish property and that the owners could evict the Shamasnas.

While the court decision was made final in 2016, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem notified the Shamasna family on July 1 that the Palestinians had until Aug. 9 to evacuate the house.

The Shamasnas previously told Ma'an that the family used to pay rent to the Jordanian government before 1967, when East Jerusalem was under Jordan’s custodianship.

After Israel occupied East Jerusalem following the Six-Day War, the building fell under Israeli administration, as the Israeli custodian made all residents sign shorter, renewable one-year leases.

In 2009, however, the building’s custodian refused to renew the Shamasnas' lease, stating that heirs of the Jewish homeowner had filed a lawsuit.

According to Israel’s 1970 Legal and Administrative Matters law, Jewish individuals are allowed to claim ownership of property in East Jerusalem if they can prove the property was under Jewish ownership before 1948.

The law only applies to Jews and not to Palestinians who were dispossessed of their lands and properties during and after the establishment of Israel in 1948, despite their right being upheld in international law in UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction, mass demolitions of Palestinian homes, and stringent laws making it difficult for Palestinians to maintain their East Jerusalem residency.

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